Are dark chocolates really healthy for you? Doctor tweets about its darker side
Dark chocolate being a great source of antioxidants and polyphenols and a good alternative for sugar-laden sweets has been gaining popularity among fitness enthusiasts. However, recent research has pointed out dark side to this 'healthier' chocolate.
Dark chocolate being a great source of antioxidants and polyphenols and a good alternative for sugar-laden sweets has been gaining popularity among fitness enthusiasts. Many studies talk about the many potential benefits of dark chocolate like and say that consuming it is good for cardiovascular health and also aids in lowering blood pressure and increasing blood flow to the heart. Dark chocolate is also considered good for brain function and is said to lower risk of stroke. The antioxidants in it can help protect the body against damage from free radicals. However, if you have been eating small portions of dark chocolate over a period of time thinking it would cause no harm, you need to know this. (See pics: Health benefits of having dark chocolate regularly)
Dr Sudhir Kumar, Senior Consultant Neurologist, Apollo Hospital, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad recently tweeted about the darker side of dark chocolates and wrote that some dark chocolate bars contain cadmium and lead — two heavy metals that are linked to a host of health problems. Having dark chocolates is especially unsafe for pregnant women and young children because these two metals can lead to developmental issues. Additionally, having it over a period of time can cause high blood pressure, kidney damage, reproductive issues and a host of other health problems.
The darker side of dark chocolates
"Dark chocolates are popular due to their potential health benefits (they are rich in anti-oxidants and are good for heart) and moreover, they are low in sugar content. More than 50% consider them as safer and healthier option (as compared to candies). But there’s a dark side to this 'healthier' chocolate. Research has found that some dark chocolate bars contain cadmium and lead—two heavy metals linked to a host of health problems. Consumer report scientists detected cadmium and lead in many dark chocolate samples tested," says Dr Sudhir.
The neurologist adds that consistent, long-term exposure to even small amounts of heavy metals can lead to a variety of health problems. He says the danger is greatest for pregnant women and young children because the metals can cause developmental problems, affect brain development, and lead to lower IQ.
"Frequent exposure to lead in adults can lead to nervous system problems, hypertension, immune system suppression, kidney damage, and reproductive issues," says Dr Sudhir.
Dark chocolates are not without benefits but its risks cannot be ignored too.
"Dark chocolates are at least 65% cocoa by weight. Cocoa beans are rich in flavanols (antioxidants), which make them healthy and unfortunately, heavy metals too lurk in cocoa solids. So, it becomes difficult to balance the benefits and risks," says Dr Sudhir.
Dr Sudhir says people should keep these points in mind before consuming dark chocolates:
*Consume dark chocolates with low lead/cadmium content.
*Consume dark chocolates occasionally, or alternate with milk chocolates (lower in heavy metal content)
*Consume chocolates with lower cocoa content.
*Children and pregnant women should avoid.